1. When did you decide to apply for further studies?
Sometime in 3rd year I figured out that mechanical engineering is not my cup of tea, and hence mildly started preparing for CAT, thinking that management was. Most pre-final year students do the same, I believe.
2. How did you make the choice between placements and applying?
I didn’t really make a choice per se. I applied and wrote the CAT before placements happened, and after placements I was pretty clear that in case I get admission to a good IIM, I will be going for it. Based on a few people I talked to, I realized that working for 1-2 years and then going to an IIM doesn’t really add much value to your learning experience by virtue of having a couple of years of work experience. Since it doesn’t make much of a difference, I figured that I will join an IIM the first chance I get, since it’s as much a game of luck as it is a game of skill or knowledge.
It isn’t required per se, but a higher CGPA never hurts. Ever.
4. How relevant are extra-curriculars and Positions of Responsibility?
My extra-curricular activities and positions of responsibility had taught me a lot about juggling different things at the same time and how to manage my time, which found direct application in the first year of my PGP programme. My extra-curricular pursuits also helped me keep my sanity and served as stress busters.
5. How did you identify your recos?
Only the IIM Bangalore application required recommendations, which I got from professors who had significantly impacted me not only in terms of knowledge but also in terms of my thought process and my perspectives. I guess it also helped that I was on very good terms with these professors.
6. Why do you think IIM A selected you?
I honestly don’t have a clear answer to this. The interview is definitely the clincher in almost all IIM interviews, and there were both good and not-so-good parts in my interview, so I really don’t know what clicked and what didn’t. Maybe I seemed like the kind of guy who usually ends up in a business school.
7. How and which colleges did you decide to apply to?
I applied to IIMs A,B,C and L. IIM L purely because the interview was before the other 3, and I felt I could get some useful interview practice. I felt IIMs A,B and C were significantly better opportunities than IIM L.
8. Did you have alternate options? If yes, what made you decide on IIM A?
I was considering admits from IIMs A, B and C. IIM C I felt didn’t have the brand and the stature that the other two IIMs had, and hence I eliminated IIM C. Between IIM A and B, the only con I had heard of joining IIM A was that the academic curriculum there was way more rigorous than IIM B. On the other hand, IIM A was a much older institute than B, implying it had a bigger (possibly better too) brand, a more extensive alumni network and rich heritage. At the end of the day, I didn’t feel like shying away from IIM A just because of rigorous academics. Also, I hadn’t yet met a person who chose B over A.
9. Any useful tips on SoPs, CV, Recos, Projects, Papers and choosing courses?
I am sure this applies to almost any field, but please spend a considerable amount of time thinking about what you really want to do. And not only think, talk to people too. In a lot of occasions, I have seen that our view of a particular line of work or research is completely different from what ground realities actually are. This information asymmetry is quite dangerous, and I would urge everyone to avoid it as much as possible.
Once you have figured out what you want to do, try to be as honest as possible in your SoP, and make sure it shows. I know complete honesty might be a little difficult, but keep in mind that the authorities responsible for your selection do not have unrealistic expectations from you, and they would appreciate an honest answer coming from a person who seems genuine, far more than a textbookish answer coming from a person who seems to be faking it.
10. Did you have a mentor? Would you like to be one?
It would be difficult for me to pinpoint to one person and call him/her my mentor. During the course of my final year at IIT as well as my 2 years at IIM A, many people have advised me and mentored me. Hence I feel it is my obligation to return the favour to my junior batches.
11. What is your field of specialisation, where did you do related projects/internship and how did you go about selecting the best way of utilisation of summers/winters?
I just finished my PGP from IIM A, I interned with Booz and Company last summer, and will be joining Bain and Company in July as a Junior Consultant. At IITM, I used the first summer to just pursue my interests, my second and third summers to pursue internships (at Toyota and ITC respectively).
-Achyuth Sanjay AKA Tempo was the Literary Secretary of Godavari Hostel. He graduated from IIT Madras with a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering in 2012. He was also the Events Core for Saarang 2012.